Cheapest Pay As You Go Bundles: The Best Prepaid Plans For Your Mobile

February 15th, 2017

With a Pay As You Go bundle, you can convert your credit into a one-month allowance of calls, texts and mobile internet. We compare the UK’s best value Pay As You Go bundles.

Pay As You Go SmartphonesIn the UK, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Pay As You Go deals. With more than 60 Pay As You Go bundles across 12 different mobile networks, the strongest deals can now rival those found on a Pay Monthly contract.

To get the best value from your Pay As You Go tariff, you’ll normally need to convert your credit into a 30-day bundle. This is a little bit like buying your airtime in bulk. Rather than paying for usage on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis, you just buy a 30-day bundle to cover all of your usage. If you’re a regular mobile user, this should save you money compared to traditional Pay As You Go. You’ll also keep full control over how much you spend, with no need to sign any contracts or to undergo a credit check.

In the UK, there’s a wide range of Pay As You Go bundles available to choose from. In this article, we’ll compare the best value Pay As You Go bundles currently available to buy.

PAYG Bundles: How Do They Work?

When choosing a Pay As You Go tariff, it’s important to understand the two methods of paying for your airtime:

Pay As You Go Bundles Traditional Pay As You Go
Best for regular mobile users and smartphone users. Best for light users who don’t have a smartphone.
Get a 30-day bundle with calls, texts & data included. Pay a fixed amount which is known in advance. Pay on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis. Rates are typically higher compared to a bundle.
Unused allowances expire after 30 days, after which you’ll need to buy another bundle. Your credit doesn’t expire providing you keep the SIM card active.
No credit check & no contracts to sign. No credit check & no contracts to sign.

In the article below, we’ll be comparing the best value Pay As You Go bundles. If you’re a light user wanting traditional Pay As You Go, you should instead see our comparison of classic Pay As You Go deals.

A Brief Overview Of PAYG Bundles

Top Up LogoIn the UK, Pay As You Go bundles have been available since 2010. Having originally launched in response to growing smartphone adoption, bundles combine some of the benefits of Pay Monthly (e.g. low costs and certainty over how much you’ll spend each month) with the benefits of traditional Pay As You Go (e.g. lots of flexibility, no credit checks and no contracts).

With a bundle, the main difference is you’ll now be using your Pay As You Go credit to buy airtime in bulk. Instead of paying for usage on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis, you instead buy a 30-day bundle to cover all of your usage. The advantage is you’ll get much lower rates and certainty over how much you’ll spend. For instance, a £10 top-up could buy you a 30-day bundle with 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of internet. On traditional Pay As You Go, this would only get you up to 250 minutes and 250MB of internet.

Traditional Pay As You Go tariffs are still available on the market and can be a better option for light users who don’t have a smartphone. On traditional Pay As You Go, your credit won’t expire providing your SIM card remains active (this normally means using your phone at least once every 6 months).

Recommended Bundles

At present, our recommended bundle costs £10/month on Pay As You Go from ASDA Mobile:

ASDA Mobile

ASDA Mobile is our recommended network for anyone wanting an all-round good value Pay As You Go bundle.

For £10/month, you’ll get 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of internet. This is four times as many minutes and four times as much data to use each month compared to EE’s £10 Everything Pack.

ASDA also has a range of bundles for both light and heavy users (e.g. 1GB of data for £7/month, 3GB of data for £12/month or 5GB of data for £15/month).

ASDA Mobile has 99% population coverage from EE including on 2G, 3G and super-fast 4G. It’s a straightforward process to keep your current number and to transfer it over to ASDA Mobile.

Order ASDA Mobile SIM card (Free) »

If you’re looking for a Pay As You Go bundle with coverage from O2, we recommend giffgaff’s goodybag bundles:

giffgaff

Giffgaff Goodybag Icons - Newgiffgaff is another highly popular network for their Pay As You Go bundles. They offer 3G and 4G coverage from the O2 network.

The most popular bundle on giffgaff is their £10/month goodybag. This gives you 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of 4G internet. This is twice as much data and twice as many minutes as you’d get on O2 for the same monthly price.

For heavy users, giffgaff has a competitive range of bundles with more data each month (e.g. 3GB of data for £12/month and 5GB of data for £15/month). There’s also a £20 goodybag with Always On data (unlimited downloads with the first 6GB at full 4G speeds).

Order giffgaff SIM card (Free) »

Through the rest of this article, we’ll be comparing the Pay As You Go bundles available on each UK network.

In the tables below, you can hover your mouse over the mobile network’s logo to find out which network coverage provider they’re using (i.e. whether they’re using coverage from EE, O2, Three or Vodafone). You can also place your mouse over the data allowance for further information about download speeds and tethering.

Less than £10/month

5 Pound Note

In the UK, the cheapest Pay As You Go bundles start from less than £5/month.

There are currently seven mobile networks offering a Pay As You Go bundle for less than £10 per month. Most of them are low-cost virtual network operators that piggyback on one of the main network coverage providers:

The cheapest Pay As You Go bundles start from about £3 to £5 per month. For this, you’ll typically get in the region of 100 minutes and 100MB of data (100MB = 0.1GB):

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
ASDA Mobile1252,000200MB£5.00
EE50250150MB£5.00
giffgaff150500100MB£5.00
iD Mobile125500100MB£5.00
Vodafone100250100MB£5.00
Tello100100100MB£5.00
Tesco Mobile100100100MB£5.00
ASDA Mobile2502,000-£5.00
Lycamobile150150-£5.00

From £7/month, you can get 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of internet:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
ASDA Mobile300Unlimited1GB£7.00
Tello100100500MB£7.00
giffgaff250Unlimited750MB£7.50
Lycamobile150150500MB£7.50
Tesco Mobile250500250MB£7.50

From £10/month

10 Pound Note

A range of deals are available for £10/month.

At the £10/month price point, there are currently 12 mobile networks offering a Pay As You Go bundle.

Our recommended bundle can be found on ASDA Mobile. You’ll get 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of internet for £10/month. ASDA Mobile gives you 2G, 3G and 4G coverage from EE (you can check the coverage in your area here).

For an alternative that uses coverage from O2, we currently recommend giffgaff’s £10/month goodybag. It comes with 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of 4G internet. As an alternative, giffgaff also has a £12 goodybag with 3GB of data.

The following table compares Pay As You Go bundles currently available from £10/month:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Lebara Mobile1,0001002GB£10.00
Lycamobile1,000Unlimited2GB£10.00
ASDA Mobile600Unlimited2GB£10.00
giffgaff500Unlimited2GB£10.00
Three3,0003,0001GB£10.00
Tesco Mobile5005,0001GB£10.00
iD Mobile500Unlimited1GB£10.00
Lebara Mobile5001001GB£10.00
Vodafone200Unlimited1GB£10.00
EE1001,0001GB£10.00
O21001001GB£10.00
Co-operative Mobile2503,000500MB£10.00
O22501,000500MB£10.00
EE150Unlimited500MB£10.00
EE250Unlimited10MB£10.00
Tello200Unlimited1GB£11.00
ASDA Mobile800Unlimited3GB£12.00
giffgaff750Unlimited3GB£12.00
Lycamobile1,000Unlimited2GB£12.00
Tello500Unlimited1GB£12.00
Tesco Mobile5005,0002GB£12.50
EE300Unlimited1GB£12.50
EE500Unlimited10MB£12.50
Tello500Unlimited2GB£14.00

From £15/month

15 Pound Notes

giffgaff has the best value deal at £15/month.

For £15 per month, we’d recommend either ASDA Mobile’s £15 bundle or giffgaff’s £15 goodybag. On both networks, you’ll get 1,000 minutes, unlimited texts and 5GB of 4G internet (ASDA Mobile uses coverage from EE whereas giffgaff uses coverage from O2).

You can also choose 4G-ready bundles from EE, Lycamobile, iD Mobile, O2 and Vodafone. There are also 3G-only bundles from the Co-Operative Mobile and Lebara Mobile.

If you’re a heavy data user, giffgaff’s £18 goodybag can be a good choice with 2000 minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of 4G internet.

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
LycamobileUnlimitedUnlimited6GB£15.00
Three3,0003,0005GB£15.00
ASDA Mobile1,000Unlimited5GB£15.00
giffgaff1,000Unlimited5GB£15.00
Lebara MobileUnlimited1004GB£15.00
iD Mobile1,000Unlimited4GB£15.00
EE250Unlimited4GB£15.00
O22502504GB£15.00
Tesco Mobile1,0005,0003GB£15.00
Lebara Mobile5001003GB£15.00
O27502,0002GB£15.00
EE500Unlimited2GB£15.00
Lebara Mobile1,0001001GB£15.00
Co-operative Mobile5003,0001GB£15.00
EE750Unlimited10MB£15.00
Tello500Unlimited3GB£16.00
giffgaff2,000Unlimited6GB£18.00

From £20/month

20 Pound Note

giffgaff has always-on data for £20/month.

For £20 per month, giffgaff offers an Always On goodybag. This gives you unlimited downloads with the first 6GB per month at full 4G speeds. You’ll also get unlimited calling and unlimited texting included in the goodybag.

As an alternative, Three has a £20 bundle with 12GB of 4G internet (but with only 300 minutes to use each month). A benefit of choosing the bundle from Three is you’ll get access to the Feel At Home offer (this allows you to use your phone in 42 countries at no extra charge).

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
giffgaffUnlimitedUnlimitedAlways-On£20.00
Three3,0003,00012GB£20.00
LycamobileUnlimitedUnlimited11GB£20.00
Lebara MobileUnlimited10010GB£20.00
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£20.00
Vodafone1,000Unlimited6GB£20.00
O22502506GB£20.00
Lebara Mobile5001005GB£20.00
Tesco Mobile2,0005,0004GB£20.00
TelloUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£20.00
Lebara Mobile1,0001003GB£20.00
EE750Unlimited3GB£20.00
Co-operative Mobile1,0003,0002GB£20.00

£25/month and more

The following Pay As You Go bundles are available for £25/month or more:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Three3,0003,00030GB£25.00
LycamobileUnlimitedUnlimited15GB£25.00
O25005008GB£25.00
EE1,000Unlimited5GB£25.00
Vodafone3,000Unlimited20GB£30.00
O250050020GB£30.00
Lebara Mobile1,00010010GB£30.00
EE2,000Unlimited8GB£30.00
Three3,0003,000Unlimited£35.00

The price of bundles and their inclusive allowances can sometimes change without prior warning. If you’ve noticed a mistake in the tables above, please contact us by leaving a comment below. You can also send me an e-mail and I’ll endeavour to update the information as quickly as possible.

Sources for tariff information: shop.ee.co.uk, lycamobile.co.uk, tescomobile.com, tescomobile.com, three.co.uk, freesim.vodafone.co.uk, mobile.asda.com, mobile.lebara.com, mobile.lebara.com, mobile.lebara.com, mobile.lebara.com, payg.thephone.coop, shop.tescomobile.com, tello.co.uk, giffgaff.com, idmobile.co.uk, o2.co.uk. Last updated on 4th August 2017.

More Information

For more information on the best Pay As You Go deals, see our guide to free Pay As You Go SIM card offers. You may also find it useful to see our guide on mobile coverage and on transferring your phone number from one mobile network to another.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 85 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Mark said:

    Thanks for your work. Am in the UK for the whole of july. Will need to buy a sim card because my NZ sim card wont allow me to use one of these deals and using my NZ card in the UK will blow my budget away.

    My question is to use an Asda pre-paid bundle would I need to go into Asda to get the bundle and get a sim card from EE. Can you buy these in the Supermarket?

    1. Ken replied:

      Hi Mark,
      Many thanks for your comment. You can pick up an ASDA Mobile SIM card for 50p at ASDA supermarkets. Alternatively, if you’re not too fussy about which mobile network you join, most other supermarkets also stock a decent selection of SIM cards (e.g. from EE, O2, Three, Vodafone, etc). Expect to pay about £1 or £2 for a SIM card in-store.
      If you’d like to avoid the hassle and additional cost, you can also order an ASDA Mobile SIM card online to be sent in advance to your UK address.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      1. Mark replied:

        Thank you for taking the time to reply. You help is very much appreciated.

  2. Steve said:

    You may want to mention that the Asda data is temporarily raised and at the end of June 2017 they revert and drop by 2GB

    1. Ken replied:

      Hi Steve,
      Many thanks for your comment. As you say, ASDA Mobile are offering 2GB of extra free data for bundles purchased before the 27th June 2017. I’ve highlighted this in the section at the top of the page about ASDA Mobile and our other recommended bundles.
      Thanks!
      Ken

      1. Steve replied:

        Hi Ken,

        Yes – i noticed some of the comments after I posted. Cheers

  3. Paffran said:

    Great site & analysis Ken. One thing though is not clear. Increasingly these days mobiles are being used not just for media access & communication but as a payment system for charity donation texts & ordering/paying for takeaways & uber type taxi services.Can these monetary transactions be made on PAYG bundles?

    1. Ken replied:

      Hi Paffran,
      Many thanks for your comment, and that’s a very good question! There are two different types of smartphone-based payment:
      1) Charge to credit card, Apple Pay, Android Pay, iTunes, Google Play or similar. This is probably the most common type of payment (used in 99% of situations). It has nothing to do with your mobile phone operator, and you can make this payment regardless of which mobile network or tariff you use.
      2) Charge to mobile phone bill (used fairly infrequently, but common for SMS charity donations). Unfortunately, this type of payment will only work on certain mobile networks (usually the big names like EE, O2, Three, Vodafone, etc). You won’t be able to use the allowances from your PAYG bundle, rather you’ll need add Pay As You Go credit to your account to pay for this. For more information, please see my guide to using up your Pay As You Go credit.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      1. Paffran replied:

        Many thanks Ken for your very clear summary.

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